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HOLIDAY GUIDE '11: Introduction

Who’s got spirit?

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I've been having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year. The weather has certainly played a big part. This prolonged Indian summer we've been enjoying has given us comfortable temperatures and a total lack of accumulated snow prior to Thanksgiving. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's just weird. I can hardly believe that December starts this week.

But the holidays are here, and we all better get into the swing of them but quick. Because even with all of the downsides -- the crass commercialism, the crowded stores, the relatives whose necks you want to squeeze so tightly that their heads pop right off (but I digress) -- there really is something amazing about this time of year. The music is cheerier, there's an excitement in the air, and people have a tendency to be a little bit nicer to one another (minus that whole relative-strangling thing).

Working on this year's Holiday Guide helped me to get excited for the next few weeks, and I hope it does the same for you. I am totally snatching Deb Schleede's "holiday auction" idea from her piece on gift-giving alternatives to Secret Santa. I can't count the number of concerts I hope to attend that Paloma Capanna included in her holiday music preview. And hopefully I can squeeze in one or two events from the holiday calendar before January 1 rolls around. I cannot believe I have never seen that gingerbread-house exhibit at the George Eastman House, or been to the lighting of the Liberty Pole. I'm making time for both this year. How are you going to make sure to make the most of your holidays?

In This Guide...

    HOLIDAY GUIDE '11: 2011 Holiday events calendar

    COMPILED BY ERIC LACLAIR *NOTE: For additional holiday concerts check the music feature.

    HOLIDAY GUIDE '11: Gifts

    Beyond Secret Santa: Alternative ways to exchange gifts with friends and family
    BY DEB SCHLEEDE Gift-giving between family, friends, coworkers, and other peers is a large part of the holiday season.

    HOLIDAY GUIDE '11: Memberships as gifts

    Membership has its privileges: Joining local institutions can pay off all year long
    By Kate Antoniades To make sure that the gifts you give your kids this year won't be outgrown, forgotten, or broken by the time the holiday season rolls around again, consider presenting them with a family membership offered by a local museum or organization.

    HOLIDAY GUIDE '11: Music preview

    Sounds of the season: A guide to Rochester’s holiday concerts
    Tear your holiday shopping list in half, right down the middle. Keep the left-hand list of names of loved ones, ditch the right-hand list of whatever you were thinking about buying.

    HOLIDAY GUIDE '11: Video game guide

    Games people play: A look at some of the biggest video games of the holiday season
    BY DEB SCHLEEDE Video games have become much more mainstream over the past few years.

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